This week the Cairns community was invited to respond to a survey asking for our help in giving the Council our visions for the future and helping to piece together a 30 year plan for the region. I went immediately to it and filled out the questionnaire. It took far longer than the 5 minutes they suggest but I was happy with the results.
There are probably a few hundred people out there who will bother taking the time to head to the link and fill it out, what of the other 160 odd thousand? Will there be other ways these people can have a say? Possibly not. And what IS the best way forward for our region? I assume that most responses will differ from one another so how will they decide which opinions are valid or useful?
I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know what MY response was.
Our region has long been the leader in ECO tourism for the whole of Australia. We have a brilliant natural environment suitable for a quick visit or total immersion. We have the best tropical and marine scientists and now, the facilities to support them. Why don't we take it one step further and investigate the possibility of becoming the ECO manufacturing hub of Australia? We could take ideas all the way from inception to design through to saleable products and in doing so, become a city suitable for environmentally sustainable workshops, conferences, scientific gatherings, eco tourism on a large scale and a model for other cities to follow. In this area we could be the best, the first and the ideal for the entire country.
We need the cultural precinct to happen. We need it to be built with the surrounding area taken into account and it needs to be as environmentally sound as possible. It needs plenty of large green spaces that are usable and have ample seating. It should be accessible to local schools for productions and awards nights, local artists, local performers and local cultural groups. There should be a large 'cultural garden' incorporated in the plan beside the buildings that has a circle of seats and plenty of shade for cultural gatherings and meetings.
We need to develop our industries to incorporate the boom in Papua New Guinea and market ourselves as a fly in fly out destination to the world. Also to the mines around us and the ones still to come(and they will come).
On the same vein, sporting events should also be marketed to under the same banner, we are the only regional centre with direct flights to almost anywhere in the world. We need a cover for the Tennis Centre, but how to do that without creating a bit of an oven, I will leave to the experts. A large cash injection to Cazaly's (which was recently begun by the Federal Government) to enlarge the current facilities and to incorporate a rectangular field would create further sporting opportunities for local and national teams.
Cairns needs to support it's outer suburbs more appropriately, with better access to bulk-billing doctors, better access to mental health facilities, higher police presence and more approachable community leaders. The small scale community events that occur all the way throughout the year need better attention from the media, as do the wonderful new initiatives and developments we have in our suburbs. The new facility (Mookai Rosie Bi-Bayan) in Edmonton housing 24 beds for new mums who have travelled from Cape and inland communities was opened this week and the lack of media attention to such a fabulous undertaking was marked.
Schools need to have more interaction between one another in the form of sporting events, music and performance arts collaborations and education based events such as a local regional spelling bee. There are already a few of these happening during the year and they are hugely successful and get the kids involved outside of their insular school environment and into the wider community.
The community needs to be re-engaged with the entire region and it's leaders. We need to be able to ask questions and get a response. We need to be able to adjust our way of thinking when required without being accused of doing back-flips and we need to feel a valued and integral member of the community we live in.
Cairns has so much potential in so many areas, it just needs guidance and support to start the process. I desperately want some action on some of the initiatives thrown around so that we can see some results and feel as if we are moving in an exciting, new direction.
Well, that's what I said I wanted......what did you want?
If you haven't yet taken the survey here is the link information...http://wp.me/pxrgh-1SG